The FBI implemented a new definition of rape in 2012. The previous definition defined rape as:
The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.
The current definition now reads:
The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.
The new definition recognizes forced anal and oral sex as rape, which incidentally allows male victims to also be recognized as rape victims on a federal level.
However, the new definition fails to clearly state whether being forced to penetrate counts as rape. This is important because a 2010 CDC study showed that the majority of male victims of sexual violence reported being forced penetrate their rapists rather than being penetrated by their rapists. While the CDC researchers did not define that act as rape (an issue I discussed elsewhere), being forced to penetrate is often counted as rape in various states.
So it is curious that the FBI chose language that at best makes it unclear whether those acts would count under the new definition. This has been a complaint from many male survivors, their advocates, and various men’s rights activists since the FBI announced the new definition.
To my knowledge, no one who wrote to the FBI about the definition received a response. Except now. Tamen, a blogger at Feminist Critics and Tamen’s Writings and a frequent commenter here, managed to get a response. Continue reading